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Self-Care to Contracts: 12 Talks For Freelancers

Being a freelancer is a great testament to oneself. It’s a life of personal accountability while also managing the endless elements that a business faces.

There is no one right way to freelance, but there are plenty of wrong ways.

What should a contract entail? How do you kindly and professional speak to a bad client? How do you build pockets of learning and exploration in your day-to-day? What does self-care look like?

Here are 12 talks to help as a guiding light.


1. Surviving Life as a Creative Person by Kate Berry, CreativeMornings/Melbourne


Kate Berry has spent the majority of her life making and collaborating. She talks about surviving life as a creative person through her love of food, design and photography.

It’s okay to get to a point in life and realize what you’re doing isn’t for you anymore.

2. F*ck You, Pay Me by Mike Monteiro, CreativeMornings/SanFrancisco


If the world of freelancing seems like an intimidating wilderness to you, Mike is your guide and will fearlessly navigate you through the tumultuous waterfalls and slippery slopes that are contracts, legal checkpoints, and other surprises along the way.

Starting work without a contract is like putting on a condom after taking a home pregnancy test.

3. I Don’t Know What I’m Doing by Nik Daum, CreativeMornings/Nashville


His name is Nik, and he doesn’t know what he is doing – according to him. He’s had a lot of great jobs and done a lot of great work, but does finding his dream job really matter? Nik has a pattern: land a new gig → get antsy → quit → repeat. But this is not a bad thing. He also has profound advice, and relies on serendipity to guide him. And it’s leading him closer to his life’s purpose each step of the way.

I work hard because why bother at all if you’re going to half-ass it.

4. From Weird to Weirder by Erica Felicella, CreativeMornings/Dallas


Erica Felicella’s commitment to art bleeds into her community. If she’s not on a shoot, she’s lending her skills to a nonprofit, or mentoring young artists. But her journey into art wasn’t linear not expected; according to Erica, it just happened. Here’s her story in how she rode the wave.

Am I scared? Oh yeah, everyday.

5. Let’s Talk About Clients by Michael Bierut, CreativeMornings/NewYork


What is a good client? How do you effectively collaborate to make magic happen? Michael Bierut says clients can sometimes be the best part of the design process.

What makes a great client? Brains, passion, trust and courage.

6. A Journey Into Photography by Paul Octavious, CreativeMornings/Chicago


In this CreativeMornings/Chicago talk, photographer Paul Octavious shares his story in picking up a camera, following his curiosities, and thriving in freelance.

When you attach a humanistic thing that people can relate to, it becomes something beautiful.

7. #BossBabeATX Boss by Jane Hervey, CreativeMornings/Austin


How can taboo inspire greatness? As Jane Claire Hervey notes, from Yayoi Kusama (Infinity Wall artist) to Miki Agrawal (entrepreneur behind “Thinx”) to Kiran Gandhi (former drummer for MIA), standing face to face against what is considered “normal” has always been the foundation for disruption, consistently and without fail.

8. Self-care For the Creative Soul by James Greig, CreativeMornings/Edinburgh


Designer James Greig shares his experience of burning out, quitting his job, and putting his career back together again, plus some of the life experiments he’s run along the way. This is a talk about a part of creative life that people don’t often talk about: creative burnout, depression and mental health.

If your soul is invisible you need to feed it invisible things like love, laughter and joy.

9. Love Work by Aisha Fukushima, CreativeMornings/Oakland


Work can be hard and painful. Aisha encourages you to find a focus for LOVE WORK – ideal work that feeds your soul, energizes you every day even with the challenges that come with it. LOVE WORK is composed of what makes you profoundly HAPPY and what you are PASSIONATE about. From a young age, music made Aisha happy. She was passionate about social change and activism. This led to RAPTIVISM, allowing her to express her inner voice, as well as connect and critically question the world around us.

Lovework is the most ideal work: that work that, yes it can be hard, but it also feeds our soul.

10. Behind the Insta Magic by Elise Swopes, CreativeMornings/Chicago


Chicago-based photographer and artist, Swopes, is a perfect example of finding what you love to do and using what you got to make it happen. She shares her story from the very beginning when she was 12-years-old learning HTML to make website layouts to getting paid to create sponsored posts on Instagram to earning 272k+ followers on the social platform. Elise gives an inside scoop into some of the apps she uses to create her wondrous cityscapes and shares some tips that have helped her to be successful in work and in life.

11. Sign Painter and Designer by Norma Jeanne Maloney, CreativeMornings/Austin


Before she was featured in the documentary “Sign Painters,” and before she became one of America’s most respected craftswomen of an art form that has seen better days, Norma Jeanne Maloney was an untrained teenager without the proper tools required to paint a window sign for a friend. Then, quite literally, a herald appeared, and changed the course of her life forever. Her story of passion and dedication are inspiring to anyone who ever wanted to follow their calling and pursue their life’s work.

If you’re authentic to yourself in what you do, if you do what you want to be when you grow up, you’re going to be happy.

12. Passion Before Profit by Stephen Vanasco, CreativeMornings/LosAngeles


Photographer Stephen Vanasco talks about keeping your day-job when pursuing a new craft as a way to cultivate your skills and avoid the need to take on jobs because of the money. He talks about his journey from skating, photography, and starting his own company.

If you have a day job, keep it. Don’t quit your day job, don’t jump into it because having that time allows you to nurture and develop your craft to what you want it to be—to not conform to a commercialism for ‘is this going to make me money?’

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